May 25 2012
It’s hard to find good GLBT movies without some guidance as to what’s worth it and what’s dreck. As such, I often go with average ratings at sites like Netflix and IMDB. “2 Girls in Love” is a movie that has overall average ratings (which is still better than some of the 2 star ones other films have) so that’s why I picked it to try.
Randy Dean (Laurel Holloman) is a tomboy who works part time at her aunt’s gas station and day dreams through school – which she hates. One day bookish, popular Evie Roy (Nicole Ari Parker) stops there and the two girls meet. Soon they’re beginning to explore their growing feelings for each other but lots of issues – their sexuality, their difference in social standing at school and their families – still stand in their way. Will they persevere in spite of all that?
This is an early film for both lead actresses and it shows. It’s also an early, indie, low budget film for the director and it shows. Sometimes this works to the advantage of the film. The story is about two teenagers finding and exploring love and I’m sure we can all remember how awkward that was. The shyness and nervousness both girls show might be acting but I think it’s a combo of that plus themselves. However that’s what they’re supposed to show and they do in a believable manner. During other scenes though, they tend to either over or under act leading to frenetic moments and stiff, dragging ones.
Writer/Director Maria Maggenti has said that she based the character of Evie on herself and the relationships of the film on those of her first one. As such most of the movie works well in the progression of the love story. But towards the end, the relationship and the fall out from it are already covered so… then what? We’re given a frantic dash to the finish that’s something out of a “madcap” 60s film where the entire cast has to go spontaneously crazy and all race around before winding up together in an ending that just sort of peters out.
What I do like about Maggenti’s directing are some short cuts and make do’s that she used in order to save money. There aren’t a lot of secondary characters so the film focuses more on the relationship between the girls. She also does some interesting stationary shots such as when calm Evie has dinner at Randy’s house and the usual chaotic environment is shown by a focus on wide eyed Evie with the other characters – all talking at the same time – quickly passing back and forth before her and in and out of the shot. If you watch with the director’s commentary, Maggenti is open about all the things that worked and all the goofs and wished for do-overs of a first time film maker.
As for the secondary characters – some work better for me than others. There are three interchangeable friends Evie has whose main function is to work as the social cost and consequence she has to pay for her relationship with Randy. Randy’s lesbian aunt, the aunt’s lover and former lover – both of whom have very similar hair which the director said is something she’s noticed about her own relationships – charge through scenes but aren’t really given that much to do individually. Evie’s uptight mother has a marvelous hysteria scene after she discovers what Evie’s been up to and with whom.
And then there’s Randy’s GBF played by then drag queen Nelson Rodriquez who died shortly after from AIDS. I liked that he was flamboyant but not limited to talking about clothes and interior design. Instead he chides Randy about her math studies and has a funny turn in the above mentioned final chaos of the movie. My favorite, though, is gas station worker Regina who is played by Dale Dickey – Patty the day time hooker on “My Name is Earl.” God I love this actress.
Since it’s basically a YA story, I like that it ends more HFN than HEA. It’s got some sweet moments and a few funny ones. It works as not only as a GLBT film – about both coming out and being out – but also touches on YA themes – about young love and the pressures of social classes. For me the film is good but not great. I’d love to see what it would have been like with a little more money and some more experience under the director’s belt. C+